About the Exhibition
Earth’s Eye by Alan Michelson (b.1953, Buffalo, NY) commemorates the Collect, a 48-acre fresh water pond that once covered a large area of Lower Manhattan, providing early inhabitants with an abundant supply of fish. The Manhattan Native Americans settled along its west bank in a village called Werpoes.
By the end of the 18th-century, Collect Pond had become badly polluted by the tanneries that lined its shores. Contamination of the water resulted in typhoid and other epidemics, prompting the Common Council to decide to drain Collect Pond in 1803.
Michelson’s Earth’s Eye consists of forty wedge-shaped, cast concrete markers, which have been set on the plaza in the sinuous outline of the banks of the pond. The top of each marker carries a different cast relief of objects associated with the natural and social history of the site. A quotation from Thoreau’s Walden is inscribed along the outside of the markers: “A field of water betrays the spirit that is in the air.”